In response to a comment by a-n blogs on Twitter: Do Artists in Residence need a plan? I have decided the answer is no. The whole point of being an Artist in Residence is to interact with the host context and for that you need an open mind, just as you do when meeting people. I have regarded every residency as a leap in the dark, which is why I resisted reading anything on archaeology before coming to the Ness of Brodgar. Although the first encounter may be daunting, to see uncluttered by preconceptions is to see with clarity.
Each day I arrive on site not knowing what I will do. Today is my 55th day since I began the residency in 2016. The morning was cold and, being the end of the week, I was tired. But by wandering round the site something caught my eye – as it usually does. The previous four days have been about the mundane tasks of uncovering the trenches and cleaning them up. Then a new trench was started and another extended, which all involves fairly brutal work with mattocks and shovels. In contrast today I focussed on two intricate and extremely delicate areas of the archaeology.
The hearths in two separate structures very different at first glance but sharing an amazing rich variety of colours in the burnt material. Difficult to excavate and difficult to paint.
Finally I saw a large cattle jaw bone lifted out of a structure – so fragile it was expected to disintegrate when moved. But with great skill it came out in one piece.
A good day without a plan…